Week 27 Devotion
This week we will continue our reading in the books of Kings and Chronicles; but we will also stop over to read the prophet Jonah, which is one of the most interesting if not challenging of the minor prophets. Why do I say that, well let’s talk about it?
We know that it is a story about a prophet who finds it hard to obey God and so he runs away from God. In his attempt to flee he boards a ship and ends up endangering the lives of its crew. Then he gets thrown overboard where he should die at the bottom of the ocean. But God sends a great fish that swallows Jonah and then vomits him out three days later and still alive. Then God gives Jonah a second chance, and we all love that part, but in the end, we learn that Jonah’s obedience was only half-hearted.
Here is something to Meditate on…
We know the story of Jonah pretty well and we are familiar with the details but the purpose of this story goes beyond the details. This is not just a story about a great fish it’s a story about the heart of God. The main theme of the book of Jonah is that God has compassion for sinful, idolatrous people. And the main question that we should ask as we read this book is, “Do I have compassion for sinful, idolatrous people?”
This story tells us a great deal about Jonah but the main point of this book is to teach us about God and by contrast to show us how our hearts are far from God’s heart. In more ways than we can imagine we are just like Jonah. In the story we learn that Jonah doesn’t care all that much for the people in the city of Nineveh, in fact, he would prefer to watch them all receive the judgment of God for their sin. But God doesn’t feel that way about them.
Let’s be a little more specific, the Lord Jesus has a huge heart of love for us, for our city and for the world but we can hardly see beyond our own wants and desires. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable, He loves us because He’s God and His love is unlike any other. God has a huge heart full of love for us, for our city, for our nation, and for this world. But, what we see in Jonah is a prophet whose heart is the exact opposite of the heart of God.
Now in Luke 11 and Matthew 12, we learn that Jesus and Jonah share a similar message and in part a similar ministry. Both of these men are sent by God to warn the people of judgment and to call the people to repent of their sin and be reconciled to God. The difference is that Jonah doesn’t want repentance to occur.
When Jonah looked upon the city of Nineveh he became excited about the prospect of watching God destroy them but when Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem he wept at the prospect of God’s judgment falling on the city. There are similarities between them but Jonah, like the rest of us, falls short of the glory of Jesus. There is another similarity, in chapter 2 we will see Jonah rise up from a near death experience but in the gospels we see Jesus rise up from a real death experience.
So why do we need this story? Do you remember the story that the prophet Nathan told to King David about the rich jerk who took away the poor man’s most precious little lamb (2 Sam 12)? Do you remember at the end of the story when David became enraged and cried out for justice? Do you remember when Nathan looked at King David and said, “You are the man.”? The prophet used a story to show David his sin.
That’s what the story of Jonah is like for you and me. It shows us a scenario that fills us with anger and frustration about the actions and words of the prophet, but in the end, we find that the story of Jonah is a reflection of our own heart. We need this book to show us the heart of God for lost people and we need God to help us to have his heart for those same people.
Here is something to Discuss…
There are quite a few things from our reading in 2 Kings that we could discuss. Elijah being taken up in the whirlwind is a pretty amazing story. But as I read the historical books in preparation for this week’s devotion there was a little phrase that stuck out to me and I wonder if you’ve seen it too. It’s this small phrase, “Yet for the sake of David His servant.”
It jumped out to me in 2 Kings 8:19 but I know I had read it before and I was right. I looked it up and found that this phrase occurs 7 times in the books of 1st and 2nd Kings. Over and over we read that the new king in Judah has done evil in the sight of the Lord but rather than bring judgment on that king and on the people, God spares them. He spares them on account of the promise that He made to David. God spares them simply because they are David’s descendants and God wants to honor the faithfulness of David.
This is a pretty amazing thing. These men deserve judgment but God does not destroy them and the reason is that one of His servants was faithful in the past. Let me state it another way, the faithfulness of 1 man resulted in blessing upon an entire tribe of people for generations to come. Does that sound familiar to you?
David’s faithfulness to God resulted in the entire nation being blessed. David’s faithfulness to God resulted in the entire tribe of Judah receiving mercy for years. And as amazing as this sounds, it is only a drop in the bucket to the blessings that we receive today based on the faithfulness of the 1 man Jesus Christ.
You see David foreshadows Jesus in this. Jesus fulfilled His purpose and as a result, we who trust in Jesus receive the blessing of God’s forgiveness forever. Take some time this week to discuss how David’s faithfulness benefitted the people and how Jesus’ faithfulness benefits us.
Here is something to pray about…
One of the purposes to the book of Jonah is that God wants to use it in our lives to help us grow to be more like Jesus. God wants us to grow in compassion toward sinful, idolatrous, lost people and to do that we need God to work in our hearts. We need God to reveal our shortcomings, we need him to show us what His love truly looks like, and we need Him to mold our hearts to be more like His; filled with compassion and love for the lost. So as we read the book of Jonah, and we learn about Nineveh and about how this book fits into the big picture of what God is doing in this world to save sinners; lets pray that God would show us his heart and help us to be more like Him.